Over 350 Detained in Wake of Attacks on U.S.
The men join a list of over 350 people who have been detained following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. U.S. Authorities say they’re seeking an additional 400 people for questioning on immigration and fraud charges.
Officials say it is too early to know if the 10 are related to al Qaeda or bin Laden, a prime suspect in the investigation.
Investigators in Missouri, Michigan, and Washington charged the men for illegally obtaining commercial licenses to move hazardous materials.
Officials say the men obtained the false permits by bribing a Pennsylvania state examiner, who later testified that he received payments in exchange for the licenses between July 1999 and February 2000. The examiner told authorities that a Middle Eastern “middle man” brought him over 30 drivers willing to pay between $50 to $100 in cash for illegal licenses.
Agents continue to pursue others who knowingly or unknowingly aided the 19 hijackers in the Sept. 11 attacks execute their suicide strikes, which killed up to 7,000 people.
In Virginia, FBI officials questioned a Salvadoran man, Luis Martinez-Flores, who allegedly helped the hijackers obtain fraudulent identification cards.
Last week, authorities investigated the bank accounts of Martinez-Flores, the 19 hijackers, and one unnamed person. Martinez-Flores is being detained on immigration violation charges.
Another man, Mohammed Abdi, is being held without bail in Virginia after authorities found his name and phone number on a map inside a car registered to a suspected hijacker.
FBI officials believe Abdi, a former food service worker at Reagan National Airport, could be their first material witness. Abdi’s lawyer and a Muslim civil rights center insist Abdi never knew the hijackers and that the link is coincidental.
Authorities in Europe have also rounded up suspects they believe could possess information on al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
German authorities say they have discovered more evidence connecting Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi, the two suspected hijackers who lived in Hamburg, to the al Qaeda network.
Based on telephone and bank records and personal testimony, German officials have linked Atta and Al-Shehhi with Syrian businessman Mamoun Darkazanli, whose assets were frozen earlier this week. Darkazanli had power of attorney for a German bank account believed to belong to bin Laden’s chief financial officer.
As French officials continue to question seven men suspected of scouting out potential U.S. targets in Europe, British authorities arrested a French national who allegedly is involved in another anti-American plot. Authorities suspect the eight men are affiliated with the al Qaeda network.
Spanish officials arrested six Algerian nationals, alleged members of terrorist group Daawa Wal Jihad, based on identification and financial fraud charges. Spanish investigators say they discovered a video tape showing bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan and glorifying suicide bombers that belonged to one of the men.
The Algerian men are suspected to have been involved with two others who were arrested in Belgium and the Netherlands earlier this month.